A tale of the tees

Recently, I sent away all of my old t-shirts to be re-purposed into a quilt. Normally, I’m all for sending my old clothes to Goodwill, but something tells me that only a small segment of the community would be looking for my “It’s Not Easy Being Easy” t-shirt (And don’t get any ideas. It was just a print commentary on the difficulties “ladies of the night” face). badteesPlus, I have an emotional reaction to these old duds, which varied in sizes and messages, usually covered by track jackets, hoodies, sweaters and blazers that aided in disguising my shape.

I love clothes and fashion, but at 350 lbs, they didn’t love me. Shopping was such a chore that oftentimes, all I could do was purchase what was available in my size, which was at times limiting and humiliating. In fall 2007, I made a trip to an Old Navy and snagged a few items fro the clearance section. When I got home, I realized that one shirt, a hunter green tee with the words “Las Vegas” emblazoned on the chest, was a size medium, a long way from the 2XL and 3XL shirts I was wearing at the time. I had no real connection with the words on the front, so I could have returned it to the store, but instead I kept the $3.99 tee.

lasvegas-200When I packed for my move to DC, I brought the shirt with me. Every few months, I would come across of it in my pile of clothing and think, “What if?” It seemed like such an implausible scenario that I would ever fit into something that size.

One year later, at nearly 220 lbs., I squeezed myself into the shirt for the first time. I stood in front of the mirror, bewildered. Everyone has their quiet moments, where there is no witness but you and your maker. I promised myself that my hard work wouldn’t be taken for granted. The tee had become a symbol of the promise I made to myself. Never mind that I was squeezing in for dear life to hide my belly when I took this pic, and I may have popped a rib contorting myself out of the shirt minutes later, but that victory was mine, dammit!

lasvegas-200-amA year after that, I sported the tee out for the first time, to a rooftop party. It was also a memorable day because it was the first time I wore a shirt in public sans draping of the aforementioned sweaters, etc., and the first time I started to recognize my new shape.

Today, once again that shirt spends more time in the closet than outside of it. Unbelievably, it is now too big for me, but I will never replace it. Something that is possibly my most cherished possession literally took cents to produce, and it has served a very important lesson in my life. To achieve a dream, you have to have something tangible to attach your dreams to, a real-life motivator to help keep you on track.

I have mine. What’s yours?

  • When my sister went to Italy, she brought back a leather-bound journal. It was ‘real italian leather”, but in truth probably only cost maybe three bucks. I’ve refused to write anything in it, because the thought of writing something ‘unworthy’ of it has kept it blank. What is has become, however, is a beacon for striving to create something worth being written inside. I totally understand the power of your shirt!

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